Living with an eating disorder: one woman is helping others figh - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Living with an eating disorder: one woman is helping others fight the battle

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TRI-CITIES, WA - Eating disorders are a lot more common than people might think. A woman who has struggled with bulimia for ten years is now using her story as a platform to help others.

Nichole Mischke's eating disorder began when she was 17 years old. Growing up, she always had insecurities about her weight, but what started off as a diet quickly turned into the start of her struggle with bulimia.

"I just wanted the comments to stop," Mischke said. "I wanted people to stop looking at me like I was different... so I ate the food and that was the first time I made myself go and throw up." 

Mischke got good at hiding what she was doing to her body from everyone, including those closest to her.

"I hid my eating disorder for almost ten years - not a single person knew," she explained. "It completely consumes you and cripples so many aspects of your life because it's all that you think about. I worked so hard to cover up what I was doing."

After her dad got cancer in 2011, Mischke realized the importance of her own health and how the self-inflicted abuse wasn't worth it.

"That slowly began a process of realizing that there is so much more to life than our physical appearance, and for me I think it was just really stepping outside of myself and saying yes to a life that was bigger than what I looked like on the outside," said Mischke.

After ten years of battling bulimia, Mischke decided to share her story with others... knowing that revealing the secret she had hid for so long would ultimately help her never go back.

"It has been the most freeing thing to open up about it, and to really be released from that shame. I just hope that my story helps other people be released from either their eating disorder or maybe it's another shameful secret."

A local resource for people in the Tri-Cities to help those struggling with eating disorders will open on June 25 at the Recovery and Wellness Center of Eastern Washington.

The closest other programs like this one are in Seattle and Spokane and the center hopes by adding a local program that they will be able to raise awareness and provide a safe place for those who come forward with their disorder.

As of right now, the program is only available for women starting at the age of 16.

The center is offering a free assessment for people interested in the program. They also accept all insurance and offer scholarships based on medical and financial need.